Quick: Name how many countries and territories one could visit on Earth. If your guess was in the hundreds, you’re already way off, at least according to the “Most Traveled People” (MTP) community. MTP was founded by Charles Veley after he tried and failed to have Guinness World Records certify him as the world’s most traveled person in 2000. As the BBC explains, Guinness required a third party to weigh in and there wasn’t one. MTP was born five years later, with Veley assembling a list of 573 countries and territories one could visit. The number slowly grew to 1,000 as places got divvied up into more specific parts. But the list just got updated again—to 1,500 locations.
In the BBC’s view, seeing “everywhere” just got tougher. The person atop the list, German Michael Runkel, suddenly has nearly 200 more places to visit, as he’s logged 1,306 of the 1,500. If you’re wondering how the MTP got to 1,500 when the UN is made up of just 193 member states, a look at how the MTP categorizes the US is illuminating: MTP divides all land area on Earth into geographically or politically separate areas, and it counts 70 such areas in the US. Most states make the list once, but Florida is divvied into four regions (the Keys, North/Panhandle, South/Central, Dry Tortugas), for instance, as is New York (Upstate East, Upstate West, Greater NYC and Long Island, UN Headquarters).
The site’s FAQ explains what constitutes a visit: sailing near an island or passing through an airport doesn’t count. Taking a train does, “presuming you were awake during the transit, during daylight hours. After dark, it is a requirement to stand down from the train during the station stops to take a selfie with the station sign.” As for the least visited places, there are two on the list that each have recorded just a single visit: the Entrecasteaux Reefs, a barrier reef in New Caledonia, and Bir Tawil, 800 square miles of uninhabited land between Egypt and Sudan that neither country claims. (Read more Travel stories.)